In his monumental book Flow, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi remarks on the importance of keeping a notebook: he writes

…having a record of the past can make a great contribution to the quality of life. It forces us from the tyranny of the present and makes it possible for consciousness to revisit former times…

In The Literature Machine, Italo Calvino says that ‘…everyone mines every book for the things that are useful to them…’ That’s certainly true for me of every book I read. I don’t know whether it’s true for everybody! But he clearly speaks for himself and for me. There’s some evidence of this in what follows.

It’s also the case that I can become absorbed in my old notebooks (a couple of yards of them), ‘looking for things that have been useful’ in the past. This morning (24th April 2019), having found a sheet of A4 with typed notes, in one of my inevitable heaps, beginning, ‘On my recent cycle ride…’ dated July 1993, I looked for an account of the journey in one of my small travelling notebooks and got lost in the nostalgia dribbled inside it – Clare (now dead), Chris & Roxanna (now dead), Dunoon, Crianlarich, Kettlewell, a woman (whom I don’t remember) at Clare’s asking me where the poems you write come from and not being satisfied with my answer. People and places I relish – and that’s how the A4 sheet goes on.

In Frankenstein’s Castle, Colin Wilson says, ‘…the Right Brain has no sense of time…’ I cluster all this remembering in a pattern in my right hemisphere and time is no more; I join my self on that journey back in 1993. Colin Wilson also said that ‘… when Maslow began talking to his students about ‘peak experiences’ they began talking & thinking about peak experiences. The result was they all began having peak experiences…’ When I read my notebooks I begin having the experiences all over again; the brain can’t tell the difference between what they were (or seemed to be) and what’s outside my window now – apple blossom time.

Anyway, this is the writing inscribed on the A4 sheet:-

On my recent cycle ride… I got into thinking about nostalgia and Time and I spent quite a bit of time floating above my time-line [an NLP concept] revisiting specific events disconnected from surrounding events or general events all connected up together: a moment sitting reading a specific book on a specific lawn in summer; ‘Bournemouth’ – the wadge of memories that goes to make up connections with the word itself.

I associate back into these events at whatever level I find them. I begin to wonder how other people relate to their past. What is the significance of their past for them? What causes ‘The Past’ to turn out be different for different people? During the 6 months of the NLP course, I was very glad to keep revisiting my past – even the painful bits; I noticed that others were perhaps not quite so enthusiastic or dealt with things in a different way from me. What makes the difference?

I’ve always been interested in TIME. I wondered about writing a book relating NLP to TIME in some way. [And the following is a robust way I learned from the NLP courses I did after Early Retirement of checking the validity of a project…] There’s a positive intention: I can seehear&feel the idea. My Context gives me time to do it. The Ecology of the idea seems OK. It would be worth the effort and time. It would do something for me, especially since I don’t seehearfeel myself attending protracted courses in NLP again. I can start the work on my own but to maintain momentum I need others. I wrote to Clare.

Here’s a list of things I’ve charted so far with no sort of rigour but just as things occurred to me:-

Think about your past!

• Where does it start?
• How far back does it go?
• How does the past seem to you?
• What makes it like that?
• What’s the shape of it?
• How is it packaged? (Presupposing that it is…)
• What ways do you have of storing TIME?
• Which parts of it do you associate with/dissociate from?
• What bits of it would you rather have had be different?
• Without necessarily being aware of it, how did you anchor specific bits of the past?
• When you go back into the past, what happens?
• What were you doing this time 10/20/30/40 etc years ago?
• What strategies do you have for storing tune?
• What are your feelings about nostalgia?
• How are peak experiences different from others?
• What is it like to recall bad/shameful/tragic/generally uncomfortable experiences?
• What regrets do you have about the past?
• What will it be like when you’ve sorted them?
• So what’s stopping you sorting them?

Examine presuppositions connected with the above questions!

• that it is better to have a rich and complex relationship to your past than not to have it
• that a thorough ownership of the past results in openness to experience/wholeness/ self-actualising tendencies
• that there will be identifiable outcomes: for example, a series of models of how people manage their past
• that an examination of people’s metaphors for TIME might be useful

Further exploration might include:-

• sub-modalities and the past: the colour of specific events – do they vary?
• meta-programs and the past
• meta-mirroring and The Past

After a brief exchange with Clare, it took me till 2001 and ROOM ONE before I started writing up my further thoughts on all this. Clare had died and I didn’t stick to the scheme.

Filed in a heap with this proposal from July 1993 is a sequence of quotations which must at the time have been notes for merging in with the above somehow.

Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi in Flow, p253:-

It’s odd but human life has never been subjected to mathematical research. Take time, for example. I long for an experiment that would examine, by means of electrodes attached to a human head, exactly how much of one’s life a person devotes to the present, how much to memories and how much to the future. This would let us know who a person really is in relation to their time. What human time really is. And we could surely define three basic types of human being depending on which variety of time was dominant…

How many types of human being? Orientated to Past, Present & Future and then some…

Csikszentmihalyi talks about discovering a complex life-theme:-

The strategy consists in extracting from the order achieved by past generations patterns that will help avoid disorder in one’s own mind. There is much knowledge – or well-ordered information – accumulated in culture ready for this use. Great music, architecture, art, poetry, drama, dance, philosophy and religion are there for anyone to see as examples of how harmony can be imposed on chaos. (Flow page 235)

He goes on to assert that ‘…literature contains ordered information about behaviour, models of purpose, and examples of lives, successfully patterned around meaningful goals…’ and that ‘…most people who discover complex life-themes remember either an older person or a historical figure whom they greatly admired and who served as a model, or they recall having read a book that revealed new possibilities for action…’

A Complex Life-theme. For me I think it’s nearly always been the case that ‘Making Connections’ is all one has to do in life. Asking the constant Virtual Question ‘How can I connect this with that?’ Combinatorial Avalanches. Everything is a making – some people call it ‘being creative’.

How do these quotations relate to the questions I asked about the concept of TIME? Ancient activity.

Whitejacket’s Almanac from Herman Melville’s Whitejacket (page l63 World Classics):-

…another way of killing time in harbour, is to lean over the bulwarks, and speculate upon where under the sun you are going to be that day next year, which is a subject full of interest to every living soul; so much so, that there is a particular day of a particular month of the year, which, from my earliest recollections, I have always kept the run of, so that I can even now tell just where was on that identical day of every year past since I was twelve years old. And, when I am all alone, to run over this almanac in my mind is almost as entertaining as to read your own diary, and far more interesting than to peruse a table of logarithms on a rainy afternoon. I always keep the anniversary of that day with lamb and peas, and a pint of sherry, for it comes in spring…

there was a moment

firstly an explosion of sunlight
down the long corridor
from kitchen to desk;
secondly the wood-pigeon crew-crewing
down the amplifying chimney stack;
thirdly the beginning of William Walton’s
Violin Sonata on the wireless;

and fourthly reading in a book
that all the parameters
categories and antitheses
that once we used to define
classify & plan the world
have been called into question

but something prevented me –
some cranial lassitude
(the morning wearing on) –
and the moment passed
(as other moments have)
and so did that unity of apprehension –
all things flowing together
in a not at all mystical undifferentiation –
that from time to time confirms
the unashamed life of the soul
in its little shining context

and the moment (now an hour ago)
comes out as poor discrete elements
line by line word upon word
in falsifying temporal contiguity

No doubt this poem appears in one of my books of poems…

And why consider that this is at all important?

In the first chapter of Milan Kundera’s Immortality, the first person narrator observes a 60-year old woman being coached to swim by a young life-guard. Her parting smile and wave seemed like a gesture belonging to a 20 year old.

It was the charm of a gesture drowning in the charmlessness of the body. But the woman, though she must of course have realised that she was no longer beautiful, forgot that for the moment. There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless…’

This Glob is a gesture from a fifteen year old ancient.

19 thoughts on “ALL THOSE OLD NOTEBOOKS! (R16)

  1. Reading a glob like this creates a buzz in my brain, an explosion in time. Reading an old journal I often ask myself who was that person who wrote this?

    If we remove time what do we have? Time gives form to the formless, time is one of the great cosmic forces, what did Gurdjieff say, there are two things that are not effected by any laws, one is time, the other is God’s love. So what is he getting at, is time consciousness, real consciousness? Time can be seen as the great equalizer, without it there is no death and without death there is nothing to live for? So many wonderful questions associated with time. But I’m not a mathematician or an astrophysicists.

    When I was in jail every minute was an hour, every hour was a day, and every day was a year, time is a trickster, a con, a thief in the night. When I first participated with you in an ELP exercise, my past took on the form of a large green monster with long tentacles, the present was a safe place, a place to return to when things became too difficult to navigate, the future was a road with a bright light, a place I could easily get lost in, a place that felt like home, but I somehow knew the present offered me contemplation and silence.

    I’ve experienced many out of body states, one of them happened during a Gurdjieff meditation task. The task took place in an old horse barn, it was extremely hot in there with at least forty other people all crammed together. The task was to focus our attention on how important acceptance was to our work. After about thirty minutes, the sweat poring down my face I suddenly found myself as a young boy, maybe around 10, or 11. I was running through a field of long grass, the sun was blazing and I was feeling the way I did when I was that young. I was laughing and running and just having a ball, there was nothing to accept or not accept and I knew that the group was trapped in an intellectual discourse about something that had been long forgotten. When I returned to the barn I was overwhelmed with humility. I listened intently to each adult try and offer there ruminations on acceptance, but like all abstractions nothing seemed to stick. I was new to the group and didn’t share my experience with them at that moment.

    Time is a history book, a bowl of red balloons,
    a river, a Robin’s egg, a train,twilight, a crack between worlds.
    Time is migration, the cycles of the moon, a casket, a bed,
    an empty room.
    Time is a race, a babies cry, an obsession, oblivion
    a monument to fools. Time is a broom drearily sweeping
    a room, a light switch, a button, a bread crumb, a whistle
    a spoon. Time is a beggar, a drunk inside a church,
    no ideas without things, a wing, a bird, a breeze
    and the wind.

    It’s easy to become trapped in time, grief can do this, so can love. When my son died I was thrown outside of time, down into a passageway I went. Some meta “I” inside had to work hard to stay just above the madness, which is a good idea in the best of times, to keep oneself moving onward not quite of this crazy planet. Maybe all we have is this moment right here, going back to my first NLP exercise, I learned to tread softly when visiting the past, and I learned to not get lost in all the wonderful light that we are blessed with and there is a light here. How does this connect to that indeed!

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    1. Thanks for this, Patrick. It’s created a ‘buzz in my brain’ which I’ll need to put into some kind of order so’s not to ‘get lost in all the wonderful light’ of it. I’ll need a few hours!!!


  2. I sat with this glob for a couple of days. “I” spent some time writing in my journal many ideas about time and its effects on us humans. “I” was thinking about Pat’s replies and wished to get something together that felt good to me inside, then Leo showed up and that’s where the light came in and I ended up throwing things together more off the cuff. Leo was sitting on my lap and was pulling on my beard, a lovely moment in time.

    I’ve been working on a cleaning project, getting things in order, throwing out many heaps and while I worked I kept travelling through time, but like I said maybe all we have is this here and now, it offers us a wonderful form of freedom. These grand-kids keep me laughing, not just about their unpredictability, but about the absurdity displayed by adults– ambition comes to mind. Onward!

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  3. Of late, I have revisited the past, of a particular kind. I came to realise that things I thought had gone, were in fact still living inside of me and affecting my life today. Not only that they reside in my Children too. I can trace the beginnings of those things back to their Great Grandfather.

    The exercise was provoked by a “run in” with my Ex husband – I finished up writing a letter to him about our past – which of course I in this context became my present… the notions within the letter (not one I shall ever send or show to anyone else, it was for me) somehow exorcised the past and led to an acceptance of what was, and what is some how less was, but never the less is sometimes even now!

    That may seem senseless, because unless you were there and all that, you (dear reader) may not understand what chip chopping time and related experiences does for me. So good luck with fathoming.

    I think where I am going with this is haphazard,yet it isn’t, it is driven by something from way back when, that still resides within me. The fact that on one level the application of this thing happened then, but then stopped, – in ordinary terms means that it is in the past, it was a past event, or number of events, and yet how can that be when I am absolutely sure that it resides in me now and may always in some form – perhaps tamed, but none the less present.

    I’m talking here about my love for my father, one could say that the active form of love could only take place in the past where he resides in conventional terms given that it is 12 years since he died. BUT if I conjure him in my mind or rather my heart, he is here now present and so is the love I feel.

    So for me, in my small corner, time is irrelevant, it doesn’t have any effect on healing or grief, or love and given that I am a bit of a soppy sod, the emotions that reside in me, are my guide, when prodded they are as real now as they were then.

    I’m not sure whether time gives order, I guess it does, but sometimes I find it a hard taskmaster, on a recent visit to Ireland, we were out of routine, out of reach of news from outside the republic (by choice) had a rest from the B word, and felt thoroughly refreshed. Then we had to come home, drop the hire car off at a particular time, go through airport security at a particular time and get on the plane at a particular time, catch the trains back at a particular time – all which primed us for our return whereby we immediately started chasing our tales again, to fit other peoples idea of where we should be when for their convenience.

    I am conscious that this has nothing to do with Colin’s glob (for which I apologise) but I do think we make an awful lot of things important, when they are not, Time being one of them, I find that it is what one does with Time that is important, not time itself….

    I’m wittering again… so what about my answers Patrick? The thing I love about my Grandchildren (I’ve made an assumption that Leo is Patrick’s Grandson) is that they unrelentingly keep one in the moment. It’s glorious – and usually a sheer joy.

    The Irish could teach us a thing or two – we (the British) have sometimes treated them as sub-human (in the past). Whilst we were in West Cork we visited Skibereen, a place that was grossly affected by the effects of the potato famine. There is a mass grave of 10,000, though that’s only a part of the number who died. Still more emigrated to the United States of America and Canada, some distant relatives of my Daughters for one, (on her Father’s side). Which is why we went partially. I felt ashamed quite frankly, although the deeds were not of my doing, The experience of seeing how past generations of my countryman had left their mark on Ireland, was incredibly humbling….

    The shame I felt, was in the now, the deeds were not mine but those of the power possessors of the time and took place in the mid 19th century… but the effects of those deeds are present to this day. Population numbers being lower still today than before the famine.

    Now here’s the thing… All the people we met when in Ireland were warm, (they readily engaged in conversation often initiating such) welcoming, (they seemed genuinely interested in us) open (they said it like it was) and humorous (they made us laugh a lot) and Good humoured – they always seemed to be smiling even in the pooring rain.

    For the life of me I couldn’t think why they should be so well disposed to us – (those we met that is) then it struck me. Perhaps their weapon of “revenge” was not to bear a grudge, it was to overcome the severity of their treatment. To prove that our past attempts to crush their spirit with their own brand of revenge – the fact that they can’t be kept down, thank you very much; – they will continue to be how they want to be – rising above the pain of the past and the same with everyone and with each other, despite how badly we may have treated them. Their tool for overcoming the past, was to be fully in the present…

    As an aside

    “It was the charm of a gesture drowning in the charmlessness of the body. But the woman, though she must of course have realised that she was no longer beautiful, forgot that for the moment. There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless…’

    Particularly the final sentence resonates so well with me – I got charmed the other day – someone getting me to sign up for a charity donation – I went along with it and enjoyed it and forgot my age completely – it was rather nice actually. I am for the most part ageless until I’m asked for my date of Birth that is…

    I’m hoping for clarification from Patrick as to what he might mean about my answers – I realise that in comparison I speak from a level of ignorance but my self-consciousness usually goes in this context, I dare to speak… but now I’m not so sure… That comes from the past, but is also sometimes in the present. and can be pricked very easily I know it stems from when I was 4yrs old – Whether it still manifests in the future, remains to be seen…

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    1. My brain now buzzing twice over… I have it fixed in it that Gurdjieff said that TIME IS BREATH. I expect I could trace the source if I searched diligently enough but it’s one of those many things that seem to be absolutely right. Focusing on my breath for the last five minutes makes the ticking of the clock just a mechanical distraction as compared with the in & out of it while contemplating apple blossom which I think that, like last year, will not fulfil its promise because of the lack of bees and then socio-historical ‘time’ asserts itself for a moment (a different ‘I’ pops up) till my breath takes over again…

      At midday on the day I was 70 (quite a long time ago) my whole feeling about the stretch of ‘time’ till then changed in a flash and, instead of Accumulation I started contemplating Diminution. I now make a habit of getting up and making my bed thinking of the act as birth; when I pull back the covers at night it’s death which I know will be undone in the morning. Thus each day is a whole life which I now live through every day, bearing in mind that Gurdjieff said – ‘remember you must die…’ This I have repeated to myself every day since the 13th March 1971 when my father died.

      The Accumulation (= the Past) is full of things – beggar, wing, bird, breeze & wind – which serve to confirm it – cycling up a hill with a field of red poppies on the right, diving into a six foot wave before it crashed on a beach, an end of war bonfire in the street, being lost in a dense office file of papers, breadcrumbs & tin whistle. The Diminution is a long tunnel into light which all this activity of mine is designed to shore up with apple blossom and my grandaughter playing the cello and my son making paintings.

      My reading recently has been all over the place; picking up books that have been just lying around for some time. Currently I’m into Hilaire Belloc. On a train two days ago I wrote in my travelling notebook:-

      ‘Belloc talks about ‘knowing my father from the depth of my own personality…’ which kind of left me gasping. There he is – silent, wrapped into himself, solitary, accumulating little quotations, preserving the India of his soul (from the 1940’s), concert goer, garden-maker, cloud contemplating…’

      Leo looks such a lovely little lad, joyful. Patrick, remember that bit of grief you felt when your group wondered about his developing soul? I am pretty sure that Mr G’s right when he says we don’t have a soul to start with – we have to grow one and that happens via the Accumulation – I’d say that Leo looks like he’s light years ahead of many human-beings who never develop a soul.

      I think that the upshot of the Time questions in my Glob is that some people just do not have an Accumulation. I’ve only just thought of the Accumulation/Diminution process but, as with Maslow & the Peak Experience experience, it now seems to define exactly how it is for me.

      And I don’t have to fathom Pat’s haphazard chip-chopping. I know it. I have thought of my father at least once a day – it just happens – for 48 years. There’s this idea that the brain can’t tell the difference between what’s now and the ‘reality’ of a remembered incident, person, place, tick-tock time. The return to ‘chasing tales’ after an Irish period out of time as defined by external events impinging on one seems like a much larger version of what happens when I flick from breath-focus to diversion by clock-tick (as keeps on happening as I type!)

      Time as represented by all those notebooks up there on the wall or more crudely in diaries or on calendars, tick-tock time does give order but it’s a mechanical order. Real time’s inside us. Le temps ne s’en va pas, mais nous nous en allons – old French proverb which is a version of ‘Time is Breath’. Though I cannot remember the exact date I read the Old French Proverb (but it must have been 1954/5) I remember that the sun was shining late afternoon as the train I was on arrived at my home station; on the platform I could hardly move with the sudden revelation… The book was AJAyer’s ‘Problem of Knowledge’!

      Thanks for daring to speak, Pat. Your wittering and Patrick’s Brain Buzz got me going this cold Sunday morning. Here endeth the sermon.

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  4. Splendid – you are in my view right about breath – focussing on breath, mind body when doing tai chi makes mechanical time disappear – as does gardening – as does hypnosis come to think of it. As does spending Time in flow … fab sermon. You see here he is again – he often used to say ‘here endeth the lesson’ and laugh his socks of when he knew he’d been going on a bit… what a lovely way to start a Sunday.

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  5. I happen to be babysitting that beautiful boy right now! I meant to say your replies are inspirational Pat. I’ll get back to this later.

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  6. We are spinning and whirling through space, this tiny blue planet and this image sets my mind also spinning and whirling. Thanks Pat for bringing up your father. Leo just went down for his nap. Today’s game was grandpa lion and grandson lion. My knees will pay the price tomorrow, but what a wonderful gift.

    Once when I was working with Colin on something, maybe dividing one’s attention, I was asked to remember some positive times I’d had with my father. You would think that would be a simple task, but my mind was so clouded with negativity that I couldn’t remember such a time. This in itself was disconcerting and revealed to me some insights into my own shadow and just how unjust I’d been to the memory of my father. What a terrible reflection I was walking around with. Gurdjieff said we should always honor our parents and I’m pretty sure he meant this literally.

    I mentioned this to Colin in an email and I didn’t receive a reply. I interpreted this to mean that I was blocked in this area, and needed to give my efforts a robust boost. After sitting with my father, mind out of time, I suddenly remembered that when I was around the age of four, my father would tell my sisters and I these wonderful bedtime stories. The more quiet I was inside, the clearer this time period became. I remembered his smell, his voice, his piercing dark eyes, his black hair,his broken nose, even the tee shirt he would wear at night with his rather large arms, chest, and belly. He was the one who infused us with the sheer joy of story telling. He was Irish and obviously had the gift, he even told me his dream was to become a professor of literature. After remembering this, many other memories flooded to the surface and soon I was forever grateful to Colin and the gods of Fathers and Sons.

    When my kids were little I read to them every night before they went to sleep. I too created stories that included them as characters and to this day they bring up this memory when we all get together. How strange that I didn’t make the connection until I was asked a question about my own father. This raises more questions about certain areas of our Being that remains in the dark, areas so deeply wounded they haven’t been exposed to the light.

    My father was abusive and cruel and yet I’ve come to honor him today because he was so much more than that, and that is quite a miracle.

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    1. Thank you for your earlier comment Patrick, I am dumbfounded, but glad if you find them so… And thank you for sharing your own Father story, I think when there have been dark times, that have been so detrimental in their effect, it is sometimes becomes hard to separate the behaviour from the person, the frailty of the human being becomes lost and is represented instead by the abhorrent behaviour.

      Nothing excuses it, but being able to see that there was so much more is invaluable and deeply healing…

      “certain areas of our Being that remains in the dark, areas so deeply wounded they haven’t (yet) been exposed to the light.”

      I added the (yet) because I do believe they are exposed to the light when we have already moved beyond the wound and are now ready and able to look at them in safety. We often don’t consciously know that we know that. The distance of time somehow allows personal change, in the other than conscious part, to the point that we dare to look. I think the other than conscious part finds a way of letting us know that and calls out to persevere. Just as you were minded to do so via Colin’s silence.

      My Ex-Husband was both abusive on a number of levels, and he was large and physically threatening, but also really fragile and remains so – it doesn’t equate on the surface, but if one looks beyond, the heat goes and the light pervades. There are reasons for him behaving the way he does. I can appreciate that only at a distance. It’s never easy, but in the end it’s the only way forward. To face, and care for what lies inside of ourselves as and when we become aware of it. Sitting with oneself and the person concerned in the way you did, is a wonderful way of healing. It becomes safe to let go of whatever mechanism we have used to maintain our own safety and sanity and move beyond.

      Sometimes the simpler the question, the more profound the effect. I’ve noticed Colin is adept at that!

      Silence is such a great medium…

      Enjoy your wonderful day with Leo, – the lion king…

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  7. So much to digest here along this thread, the art of conversation comes to mind, a willingness to share,a genuine gift.

    Thanks Pat and of course Colin for this soulful opportunity.

    P.S. I’m breezing through Room 12 something I usually don’t do, but at this Time feels like the way to go. Best Wishes!

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  8. Thanks Patrick and of course Colin – The soulful opportunity is a treasured gift.

    I am very picky who I share with !! I am privileged to count you both amongst their small number.

    As I write these few words, it strikes me that “distance” something that can be mechanically measured and yet is also immeasurable but none the less felt. I am more and more convinced that it is the immediate felt sense of what we experience in a felt closeness that enriches our lives.

    Especially as I know one can be eons distant with someone who is sat right next to one.

    Best Wishes ti you too!

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  9. What a privilege to be able to listen in on this awesome conversation between the three of you! Lately, I am experiencing time – especially the past – in a totally new and unfamiliar way, as I approach my seventieth birthday a few months from now. Suddenly I find myself thinking of everyone from my past – those still living as well as those now dead – as “ghosts”, because they no longer exist as the persons I remember them to have been in that past. Which means that I too – as I remember myself to have been at that time – am also a “ghost”. Still struggling – and so far not very successfully – to make some sense of this new awareness.


  10. You’re very welcome, Tom!

    It does seem rather extraordinary that all these exchanges take place here. It makes me think how HGWells’ vision of a ‘World Brain’ might have worked (or even work) if the world consisted of rather more thoughtful people! People without mechanical axes to grind. Non-acquisitive people perhaps.

    Midday exactly on my 70th birthday marked that radical distinction between Accumulation/ Diminution I remarked on (or even discovered for myself as a concept) above. I suppose that one upshot of that was to attempt to stem the flow of Diminution by revisiting the past much more often to build on what seemed to be important about it. Hence the diving into Old Notebooks – that was always about to happen, I think. I often wondered why I kept them going – nearly 70 years of them!

    quite often these days

    I focus on a moment from the past
    identify strongly with it
    and very soon find myself back there
    pursuing a path that leads
    from that moment into other moments
    that just might have been

    so that I am lost in passageways
    I never took – corridors of time
    I maybe only half-explored; it’s an effort
    to wrench myself away back here
    where all’s strange and unaccountable
    & forlorn with a sense of great loss

    so it was when I discovered (used as
    a bookmark) a letter I never answered
    asking me if I was happy now
    I had left her and gone my own way –
    if I could let her know (she said) she’d
    rest content so I disappear into her

    missing me and start wondering how
    to reply – the letter is fifty-five years old
    for god’s sake but as I said I’m prone
    to follow up these distant naked leads
    fully expecting the characters I bring to life
    to make a response to me as I do to them

    10th September 2011

    When I go back to being with people from the past it’s just like that – I am with them, seeing, hearing, feeling (and in at least one case tasting!). It’s a bit unsettling to feel their real presence: they don’t really feel like ghosts for me – though I expect I could get to thinking of them thus if I put my mind to it! But then I wonder how they feel about my appearance in front of them – I must seem like a ghost to them!

    Fantasy or reality? How I think is what shapes me & therefore ‘real’ whatever that is… Well…

    Thanks for making me delve back into my old books of poems, Tom!

    All this is just off the top of my head!!!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many of the lines in your poem speak so directly to me, Colin. Most especially “… a path that leads from that moment into other moments that just might have been”, and “lost in passageways I never took”. Thanks for providing such poetic images to help me make some sense of these fictitious nostalgic thoughts that keep arising. I think that for me at least, Diminution might involve letting go of these mental wanderings (and wonderings) once and for all, and embracing more fully the moments that actually were, and the path that I actually took. I expect this will take some more time, and perhaps some more wanderings. Onward!


  11. aHello Tom, So nice to hear from you.

    For me 70 (18 months ago) was definitely a turning point, a reluctant realisation that the reality(what ever that is) is that one has far less time to go than has already happened. It did make me question, many things. But then what is time? Is it actually real? Well here we go again!

    Certainly when I think of people I’ve lost, either through death or just lost along the way, they are not ghosts. – The important ones, those who affected my deeper feelings, are as vivid and present today as they were then.

    But then knowing how unreliable memory is and how it draws selected “facts” from the past and cobbles and conflates them together, regurgitating some sort of gestalt representation depending on the context in which we are trying to retrieve “a” memory.

    I do visit the past on occasion, I think we can’t not in any case, since it often remains so much a part of us in the present; the past in all it’s various forms is what has made us who we are, thus far. Some perceived as “good” some perceived as “not so good” to say the least, but always leading us inexorably along the path we travel. Which for me is why it is so important not to become the number that marks my time on this earth, or to count the days until my physical demise; even in the realisation that time may be nearly up; but to be as fully and clearly me as I can be in the present moment. I am fearful of missing life in a haze of nostalgia or self analysis otherwise.

    But then I am lucky to have Grandchildren who keep me right here now. They apparently think I am their age sometimes, particularly when playing footy in the garden! They speak to me on a one to one basis often with a degree of deep understanding which is far ahead of their years; so even though they haven’t necessarily been on this earth for very long, 7, 10 and rising 14, sometimes reflecting the influence of the past from way before they were.

    When I look back on old scribblings it’s always surprising to me to notice the different aspects of me that have spoken on those pages, would I say the same thing again, sometimes I’m convinced not remotely, and I can see what influenced me to say that at that moment. So I suppose you could say that part of me is a ghost, but I prefer to think of it as having been released. Another time, yes I would most definitely say it again, it reflects a more rounded point of view and a value still held.

    There is a fabulous piece of choreography called Ghost Dances, by Christopher Bruce that portrays the interruptions by Ghosts into living peoples everyday lives. There is a section that portrays person sleep walking through life…

    Where is this going? My job for the next how ever many years is to keep the light alive, and march on. Hopefully accumulating not only new, wider or deeper knowledge, but importantly for me also to develop a greater understanding as I go.

    I’m not sure if that will ever stop, but “for the time being” I am keeping on keeping on… trying to add to my accumulation and fight against the diminution. As I write this, I have a mental picture of a pair of balance scales with me trying to pile on more accumulation to keep the diminution at bay…

    It is a fact of course – the maths tell one that there are fewer years left, but is it a fact that more was accumulated earlier in one’s life than can possibly be now? For me, it ain’t necessarily so…

    When I re-read or re-visit something from the past it is often with the intention of seeking to see and understand something I’ve missed previously, and then to find a way to use that understanding for the better – today. Sometimes I can, sometimes I can’t – hey ho!

    I am minded of Dylan Thomas’s wonderful poem, which I don’t perceive to be about dying, but more about the attitude toward the inexorable approach to the inevitable.

    Do not go gentle into that good night
    Dylan Thomas, 1914 – 1953

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on the sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    For me, I still don’t consider that I am anywhere near being in Old Age, I am certainly only fractionally nearer to educating myself. I have no idea what numerical value will signal Old age to me, and so, the upshot is – my attitude is “hang on – I haven’t finished yet – I’ve got far too much to learn and do!” – I hope that will be my attitude until my time runs out.

    Enjoy it when it arrives Tom – it’s not half bad. It does give one a certain freedom that wouldn’t have been possible earlier in ones life. (I realise that’s a largely feminine perspective but none the less I think it’s true of Men too) We often have label affixed to us, I am embracing this time to disprove the labels. It gives one the opportunity to surprise people sometimes – such fun!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. What an inspiring approach you’re bringing to your 70s, Pat! My takeaway from your comments is that I’m probably correct in my efforts to let go of the regret-tinged nostalgia for my past that’s arising so often these days. How else can I ever become , as you put it so well, “as fully and clearly me as I can be in the present moment”? Continue enjoying those grandchildren of yours – sounds like they’re every bit as brilliant as their grandmother!


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